On 24th and 25th January, we welcomed John Bosco Lukwaga and Robert Malanga of MADIPA in Uganda. MADIPA is a well-established and trusted partner for ElectricAid. They are a self-help group, run by PWDs for PWDs, addressing the position and prospects of people with disabilities in Masaka, Uganda. They run a wheelchair manufacture and repair workshop, and a training school for children with disabilities, giving them vocational training in leatherwork, metalwork, carpentry, tailoring, screen printing and hairdressing. The aim is to give a dignified life of self-sufficiency to as many PWDs as possible. They also engage in advocacy work with central and local government, and with PWDs themselves. The work with Government has been successful in that their trip was financed the Ugandan Government – a very rare event in the Developing World. MADIPA also claims to have all but eradicated begging by PWDs in Masaka town – an occupation which formally would have been their main activity.
MADIPA were originally introduced to us by the Medical Missionaries of Mary in Uganda, and were accompanied on their visit to ESB by Sr. Helen Ahern MMM, who served for 19 years in Masaka. We have funded MADIPA 5 times since 2010 with a total of €32,000 – small enough money to us in Ireland, but enough to support the school, do some electrical installations, install solar lighting and rebuild a damaged workshop. This, according to John Bosco, has been instrumental in transforming the lives of PWDs in Masaka.
Our visitors were also met by Niall O’Hanlon, ESB’s Access Officer, who went through ESB’s policies and actions in the disabilities arena, and also addressed the January meeting of the ElectricAid Committee. They later visited the Central Remedial Clinic and the Irish Wheelchair Association in Clontarf, where they were bowled over by the level of provision in Ireland – there is NO provision in Uganda.
MADIPA group site visit to Central Remedial Clinic